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Mobile Technology News, November 1, 2014

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • Apple facing India lawsuit over similar 'iFon' trademark
    In a case somewhat similar to the Mexican lawsuit that successfully argued that an earlier “iFone” trademark superseded Apple’s mark, a company called iVoice Enterprises is India is challenging Apple’s iPhone trademark. The company was at work on a low-cost mobile phone for India that was dubbed the “India phone” or “iFon,” but never came to market as partners backed out and the deal collapsed shortly after Apple announced the iPhone in January 2007.

  • What Do a Keyboard, Range Extender and 'Free' TV Have in Common? Absolutely Nothing!
    We in Jocgeekland have been playing with a few items that have absolutely nothing in common, other than their appeal to those of us that salivate over technology and seek ways to get “cool” new stuff.

    With that in mind we took a look at the new Nixeus Moda Mechanical Keyboard ($79.99), an Amped Wireless High Power AC Range Extender ($99.99) and Simple.TV ($199.99 plus a subscription fee).

    Mechanical keyboards have become the go-to items for gamers and so-called PC power users basically because you can type faster on them and can hear a satisfying “click” every time you press a key. They also tend to last a bit longer than keyboards that come packed with new computers and the other so-called “membrane” or touch units. The downside is that they tend to be heavier than non-mechanical keyboards.

    The Nixeus Moda Keyboard didn’t disappoint us. It is much lighter than other mechanical keyboards we’ve tested, weighing in at about two pounds versus three pounds or more for the others. The “feel” of the keys when pressed were also less “mushy” — which we’ve discovered is a symptom experienced when trying to type on a keyboard with rubber domed or scissor-type mechanisms. In other words, you can feel the response of the keys much better using a mechanical keyboard.

    The Moda was also a bit smaller than the keyboards we’re used to using. They do this by eliminating many of the extra feature keys (such as dedicated gaming keys or two number pads) found on other keyboards.

    But the biggest thing that won us over was the price. You can expect to spend from $130 to $150 for a well-made mechanical keyboard, so being able to purchase the Moda for $79.99 is a pleasant — and welcome — bonus.

    Other key features include:

    • A key switch rating of up to 50 million keystrokes. Most non-mechanical keyboards are rated at 15 million
    • Six-key rollover
    • Plug and play
    • Pre-programmed media keys
    • Eight blue key cap replacements

    The WiFi Range Extender from Amped Wireless can increase the range of your wireless network by up to 5,000 square feet.

    This is a dual-band range extender, which means it can work with 2.4 and 5 gigahertz networks. It’s also compatible with the newer 802.11ac wireless protocol. Plus it can work as a network bridge simply by connecting a device (such as a TV or PC) into its wired network port.

    We used it to add WiFi access to weak spots, including our basement (man cave) and deck, where we often lose network connections and it worked with minimal input from us. We simply plugged it into a wall outlet, pressed a button so it could see our wireless router, and we were up and running.

    Other key features include:

    • You can create up to eight guest networks for guests and conference rooms
    • It works with Apple AirPlay and AirPrint plus Microsoft Windows wireless protocols
    • You can restrict access to specific users
    • There’s a detachable antenna
    • It features BoastBand technology that doubles the speed and performance of your network

    Are you thinking of cutting the cord and dumping your cable or satellite TV service? If so, you may want to consider installing a Simple.TV DVR, attaching it to an antenna and a hard drive and paying a low subscription fee for the privilege. Basically it is a small box that includes a TV tuner (there are two in a more expensive Silicondust model) and ports to attach it to a hard drive or memory stick and an antenna.

    The Simple.TV package allows you to record “over-the-air” broadcasts and stream them to any devices connected to the Internet including computers, an iPad or a Roku media streamer. The company says they are also working on a connection for Android devices.

    The company also offers free TV, which allows you to stream and record “live” high definition TV, but doesn’t allow you to schedule recordings, provide access to multiple users (up to five can record and watch at the same time) or include the company’s interactive program guide. Fees for those features are $59.99 per year or $149.99 for a lifetime subscription.

    Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman’s Jocgeek fan page at www.facebook.com/jocgeek, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek. You can also contact him via email at jocgeek@earthlink.net or through his website at www.jocgeek.com.

  • This Year Halloween Has Its Own Selfie App
    Ethics Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Looksery. This article is aimed at informing my readers and followers about events and things that I like and consider worth writing about.

    StartupSocials Marketing Conference just ended a few days ago and I wish I had five heads and 13 hands so I can think and write at the same time about the great things that I saw there. But since I have only one head, I will use it wisely and get started.

    Copyright Cosmin Gheorghe

    One way of making the best out of your head is to transform it. And obviously, there is an app for that. Looksery’s app provides face tracking and real-time filters that change the way your face is seen on the screen. The options are ranging from funny avatars to reaaaally scary Halloween appearances.

    Copyright Cosmin Gheorghe

    So here is my 7-year-old answer to my previous video-selfie:

    Copyright Cosmin Gheorghe

    Viktor Shaburov, Looksery CEO and President, showed me how Looksery can be used to have fun and spoke about his company’s plans to license their technology to businesses in the telecom industry, healthcare and makeup, as well as movie studios.

    Looksery identifies all facial features, and tracks and maps facial expressions. This allows users to get special face effects through the front camera in real-time. The app allows to modify facial features, correct skin tone or transform into a 3D avatar character. In addition to messaging, users can share photos and videos in-app through the social networks as well as email.

    October 31st is around the corner and I have to say that one of Looksery’s “creepy” filters is a great attachment to your Halloween electronic greeting:

    Copyright Cosmin Gheorghe

    Looksery has been featured on CNN, Inc., TechCrunch, Wired, Business Insider and CNet.

  • Artist Transforms Breakup Texts Into Works Of Art
    Breaking up via text isn’t just bad form; it can turn into a truly surreal experience.

    Ending an amorous relationship with an often clichéd string of characters through the internet or a mobile phone ia about as impersonal and anti-romantic as it gets. Artist Allison L. Wade explores the bizarre and ubiquitous practice with a bright and biting series entitled “It’s Not You.” The artworks explore the awkward space where the infinite ether meets your intimate parting words — be they poetic, overdramatic or borderline deranged.


    Wade takes inspiration from texts she’s received in dissolving relationships, from rom rom-com ready lines like, “I knew you would do this to me” to more bizarre gems like, “WTF!!! YOU LEFT FOR IBIZA WITHOUT ME” and “ON ZANAX AT THE AIRPORT HAD A PANIC ATTACK PLEASE STOP CALLING ME”. She juxtaposes these profound textual snippets with a variety of backdrops — from solid, bright colors to psychedelic washes to color print test patterns — each in some way conveying the cold and empirical nature of technologically-assisted communication.

    i handled

    “With the paintings I want the viewer to feel a mixture of feelings but mainly irony,” Wade explained to The Huffington Post Arts. “I really want the viewer to discover through humor a universal recognition and the absurdity of how we shield ourselves with technology.”

    Somewhere between the Platonic ideal of the perfect breakup and the awkward reality that often must suffice, Wade’s dry artworks capture the bizarre status of romance in the digital age. Through electric colors and awkward stock imagery, Wade showcases the peculiar state of contemporary romance — simultaneously made all the more readily available by technology and, in some ways, impossible.

    “It’s Not You” runs from November 6 to January 10, 2015 at Rick Wester Fine Art in New York. Get a preview of the works below.

  • A Mobile Health Innovation That Could Help Stop Ebola
    Developing countries don’t have the high-tech equipment needed to quickly diagnose the disease, but they do have millions of cellphones. One UCLA professor has a way to turn those phones into diagnostic centers.

    There are 6.8 billion cellphone subscriptions in the world. Even when you consider that some people have more than one subscription, that means that an incredibly high percentage of the world’s 7 billion people now have a mobile phone.

    Although most of us use our phones for things like texting, taking photos and playing games (in addition to the occasional phone call), there’s a movement out there to harness the power of that giant community of cellphone users to help people living in the poorest countries on Earth.

    Dr. Aydogan Ozcan is a member of that movement. The UCLA engineering professor is turning mobile phones into diagnostic centers that can be used thousands of miles away from labs with expensive hospital equipment.

    Ozcan has created software and hardware that turn cellphones into microscopes and diagnostic machines. With the addition of a 3D-printed microscope, a field worker in Africa can quickly scan the blood of an HIV patient to see how the virus is reacting to medicine. Workers can take water samples to test for E. coli in a stream or well, and epidemiologists can connect data points to quickly see where diseases are spreading.

    “We are trying to democratize the landscape of measurement tools,” says Ozcan.

    Ozcan’s work could make a huge difference in the fight against Ebola in Africa. The power of mobile health solutions is already being seen on the ground in Africa, where Ebola has killed more than 2,400 people since March. Apps have helped educate people about the disease and how to protect themselves against it, and a social-media program spread information about Ebola in Nigeria so quickly that it’s being credited with helping limit the scope of the disease in that country.

    But Ozcan’s work goes one step further by creating hardware that makes it possible to use cellphones in entirely novel ways. One of the secrets to Ozcan’s work is that camera phones have improved so rapidly, from 0.2 megapixels not too long ago to 40-plus today. Thanks to Moore’s law, the cameras are only going to continue to improve.

    “What do you do with 40 pixels?” asks Ozcan. “We convert them into a microscope that can look at cells, bacteria and viruses.”

    Ozcan’s microscopes work without the addition of fancy lenses by actually photographing the shadows cast by cells. (You can watch his TED Talk on the new technology here.) The shadows are like fingerprints, and specialized apps on the cellphone use algorithms to reconstruct the cell images and translate them into information that can be read by a field worker without a degree in pathology.

    Ozcan has also created specialized diagnostic test readers. A blood or mucus sample interacts with chemicals in the reader to show whether the sample is positive or negative for specific diseases. Advances in 3D-printing technology and the global prevalence of cellphones mean that the reader can be produced cheaply enough to be distributed in impoverished locations. Today, workers are using this technology to screen for HIV. In order to test for Ebola, another company needs to create a solid diagnostic test to recognize the Ebola signature. That is already in the works. Then Ozcan’s technology can be used to scan bodily fluids for the disease.

    “We could convert Ebola into an optical signature,” says Ozcan.

    Although Ebola wasn’t previously on his radar, Ozcan expects to be partnering with diagnostic companies and creating new software for Ebola over the next few months.

    These kinds of technological innovations will mean the difference between life and death for millions of people. If Ozcan’s technology had been available to test for Ebola at the start of the year, maybe the latest outbreak would already be contained and the current panic in places like the United States would seem like something out of a fiction book.

    Ozcan’s invention is just more proof that we’re on the verge of great technological breakthroughs thanks to the ubiquity and power of cellphones. They can already be used as stethoscopes, to monitor blood sugar in diabetics and even to help people stop smoking. As cellphones become more powerful and prevalent, expect them to bring health and innovation to every corner of the globe.

  • When Experts Are a Waste of Money
    Corporations have always relied on industry analysts, management consultants and in-house gurus for advice on strategy and competitiveness. Since these experts understand the products, markets and industry trends, they also get paid the big bucks.

    But what experts do is analyze historical trends, extrapolate forward on a linear basis and protect the status quo — their field of expertise. And technologies are not progressing linearly anymore; they are advancing exponentially. Technology is advancing so rapidly that listening to people who just have domain knowledge and vested interests will put a company on the fastest path to failure. Experts are no longer the right people to turn to; they are a waste of money.

    Just as the processing power of our computers doubles every 18 months, with prices falling and devices becoming smaller, fields such as medicine, robotics, artificial intelligence and synthetic biology are seeing accelerated change. Competition now comes from the places you least expect it to. The health-care industry, for example, is about to be disrupted by advances in sensors and artificial intelligence; lodging and transportation, by mobile apps; communications, by Wi-Fi and the Internet; and manufacturing, by robotics and 3-D printing.

    To see the competition coming and develop strategies for survival, companies now need armies of people, not experts. The best knowledge comes from employees, customers and outside observers who aren’t constrained by their expertise or personal agendas. It is they who can best identify the new opportunities. The collective insight of large numbers of individuals is superior because of the diversity of ideas and breadth of knowledge that they bring. Companies need to learn from people with different skills and backgrounds — not from those confined to a department.

    When used properly, crowdsourcing can be the most effective, least expensive way of solving problems.

    Crowdsourcing can be as simple as asking employees to submit ideas via email or via online discussion boards, or it can assemble cross-disciplinary groups to exchange ideas and brainstorm. Internet platforms such as Zoho Connect, IdeaScale and GroupTie can facilitate group ideation by providing the ability to pose questions to a large number of people and having them discuss responses with each other.

    Many of the ideas proposed by the crowd as well as the discussions will seem outlandish — especially if anonymity is allowed on discussion forums. And companies will surely hear things they won’t like. But this is exactly the input and out-of-the-box thinking that they need in order to survive and thrive in this era of exponential technologies.

    I tried such an experiment myself, crowdsourcing a book on women in innovation. After researching the exclusion of women from the technology industry, I wanted to propose ideas to fix the problems. It was unlikely that I, as a male, would be able to understand the depth of the problem that women face; to articulate painful stories of sexism and abuse; or to propose meaningful solutions. So I asked the crowd. I enlisted Columbia School of Journalism professor Farai Chideya as my coauthor, and we hired a project manager, Neesha Bapat. Together, we brainstormed questions we wanted to ask and problems we wanted to solve. We placed these on an online discussion forum. Then we approached our women friends and armies of social media followers to ask them to join the discussion. By the end, more than 500 women had come together to share ideas and propose solutions. Within six weeks, we were able to perform research that would have taken years, and developed a consensus on what needed doing. Women documented their own heart-wrenching stories and told the secrets of their success. The result of this effort is a book, Innovating Women, which dozens of women have told me has helped, motivated and inspired them.

    Another way of harnessing the power of the crowd is to hold incentive competitions. These can solve problems, foster innovation and even create industries — just as the first XPRIZE did. Sponsored by the Ansari family, it offered a prize of $10 million to any team that could build a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the earth’s surface, twice within two weeks. It was won by Burt Rutan in 2004, who launched a spacecraft called SpaceShipOne. Twenty-six teams, from seven countries, spent more than $100 million in competing. Since then, more than $1.5 billion has been invested in private space flight by companies such as Virgin Galactic, Armadillo Aerospace and Blue Origin, according to the XPRIZE Foundation.

    Heritage Provider Network’s CEO, Dr. Richard Merkin, wanted to decrease the number of avoidable hospitalizations — which cost the country more than $40 billion every year. So, in 2011, he offered $3 million to the team that could best predict how many days a patient would spend in the hospital, and 4,500 teams, from 41 countries, provided more than 39,000 entries. The best entries were seven times as accurate as any health-care organization’s predictions. “Health care has become an information science, and health-care organizations that embrace the status quo will become the Kodaks and the Blockbusters of the second decade of the 21st century,” Merkin wrote in an email to me.

    Competitions needn’t be so grand. InnoCentive and HeroX, a spinoff from the XPRIZE Foundation, for example, allow prizes as small as a few thousand dollars for solving problems. A company or an individual can specify a problem and offer prizes for whoever comes up with the best idea to solve it. InnoCentive has already run thousands of public and inter-company competitions. The solutions they have crowdsourced have ranged from the development of biomarkers for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease to dual-purpose solar lights for African villages.

    Not long ago, success in business came from hoarding knowledge. Whether in departments, in groups, or in individual experts, the motivations were to keep information confidential and use it to gain an edge. Today, it is all about sharing. When an idea is shared, one plus one equals three, because the parties learn from each another and develop new ideas. In this way, crowdsourcing harnesses the creative and competitive spirit of people all over the world, enabling them to solve big problems as well as small and bypassing the knowledge-hoarders we once depended on.

  • The Most Cringeworthy Autocorrects FAILS Of October 2014 (NSFW)
    What’s scarier than any ghost, ghoul or goblin? Sending a horribly embarrassing autocorrect.

    There’s no need to to go to a haunted house or watch a scary movie tonight. Just check out October’s best autocorrects below, courtesy of Damn You Autocorrect, and shudder at the thought of texting your mom or dad about a cameltoe. Oof.

  • F.C.C. Considering Hybrid Regulatory Approach To Net Neutrality
    The chairman and staff of the Federal Communications Commission are moving toward a proposal that for the first time would give the agency regulatory authority over how Internet traffic flows between content providers and the companies that provide Internet service to consumers, according to people close to the discussions.
  • Hubble Spies Spooky 'Ghost Light' Of Dead Galaxies
    Just in time for Halloween, the Hubble Space Telescope has spotted something a bit spooky: the faint glow of stars spewed out billions of years ago by galaxies in their death throes.

    (Story continues below.)

    ghost light dead galaxies

    The image shows “Pandora’s Cluster,” a group of 500 galaxies–formally known as Abell 2744–located 4 billion light-years from Earth. The “ghost light” (artificially colored in blue in the photo above) comes from so-called orphan stars that drift freely between galaxies.

    Astronomers believe these stars were once part of as many as six Milky Way-sized galaxies that were torn apart by gravitational forces around 9 billion years ago. They hope to use the “ghost light” to gain a better understanding of how galaxy clusters form and change.

    “The Hubble data revealing the ghost light are important steps forward in understanding the evolution of galaxy clusters,” Ignacio Trujillo, an astrophysicist at The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, who was involved in the Abell 2744 research, said in a written statement.

    A study describing the research was published online Oct. 1 in The Astrophysical Journal.

  • Kitten Takes On Spooky Remote-Controlled Spider
    This Halloween ain’t big enough for the both of ’em.

    Watch a kitten taking on a remote-controlled spider in a spooky showdown. (The music is the perfect touch.)

    According to the video’s YouTube description, our feline friend and her foe have since become friends: “The kitty and the spider have become best friends. She is now sleeping and cuddling with the spider.”

    Happy Halloween, you two.

    H/T Tastefully Offensive

  • Giveaway: Trick or Treat! Win 1 of 2 Marshall cell phone cases!
    What’s Halloween without a little rockin’ music? It’s not really Halloween at all! I mean, think of all the great rock bands who have based their whole acts around having Halloween all year round. “Black Sabbath” along with “Alice cooper,” “Marilyn Manson”, “Slipknot”, “Slayer”, “Gwar” and of course we can’t forget “Kiss” all bask in the glory of the eternal darkness that this day represents. Guaranteed at some point most of these groups used Marshall equipment, and today to celebrate that we have two Marshall cell phone cases to give away to our readers.

  • Cops Can Force You To Unlock Phone With Apple Touch ID, Judge Rules
    Cops can’t make you give them your smartphone password — but they can compel you to slap your finger onto your Apple Touch ID device to unlock it, a Virginia court ruled Thursday.

    It’s an odd sort of loophole: The Fifth Amendment protects you from offering knowledge that could incriminate yourself, meaning you don’t have to tell a cop your phone’s password if he or she asks you for it. But you can be required to turn over physical evidence or DNA information. In the Virginia case, the judge ruled that a fingerprint is considered a physical object — and police are allowed to force you to give it to them.

    Apple’s Touch ID lets you unlock your iPhone or iPad with your fingerprint, saving you the trouble of typing in a password. The feature made its debut last year and is available on the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3.

    The ruling by Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Steven Frucci is linked to the case of David Baust, an emergency medical services captain who was charged in February with attempting to strangle his girlfriend. Prosecutors wanted to access video on Baust’s locked phone, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

    The Touch ID case is not as binding as a Supreme Court ruling, but it sets a precedent that other cases can draw on, Mashable noted. According to the Virginian-Pilot, it’s unclear how the ruling will impact Baust’s case. If his phone is protected by Touch ID, prosecutors could access it using Frucci’s ruling. If the phone is protected by a passcode or both a passcode and Touch ID, they can’t.

    Tech experts have been suspicious of the Touch ID security feature from its rocky beginnings. Marcia Hofmann predicted this ruling in Wired way back in 2013, when the feature was first announced.

    “We can’t invoke the privilege against self-incrimination to prevent the government from collecting biometrics like fingerprints, DNA samples, or voice exemplars,” Hofmann wrote.

    One workaround to this issue could be to just turn off your phone if cops approach. In that case, you’d have to enter your four-digit pin when you turn it back on, even if you use Touch ID.

    Apple recently came under fire from the FBI for expanding data encryption that makes it harder for law enforcement to access information about people using their devices. In this case, it seems the company may not have made things hard enough.

  • Dad And Baby Conquer Halloween With This Homemade MechWarrior Costume
    When Ryan Bowen was in high school, he was a mega-fan of the MechWarrior video game series. According to his wife Cassandra’s Imgur post, he was such big fan that he started planning this Sunder mech costume before they even had a baby.

    Now that he’s dad to son Geraint, he finally has the chance to bring the costume to life. And the result is amazing.

    Happy Halloween Ryan and Geraint! May you win all the costume contests tonight.

    H/T Tastefully Offensive

    Read more on HuffPost Parents:
    What You Need to Know About 6-Foot Trick-or-Treaters
    The Default Parent
    20 Things Your Baby Is Desperately Trying To Tell You

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  • Study Shows More Choice, Spending For Online Content
    It is no secret that great change is afoot in markets for digital content; inescapable headlines drive that fact home. The changes have dramatically altered the landscape for content creation, but as a recent study commissioned by my association reflects, these monumental shifts have largely benefited consumers, and the economy. While a few obsolete gatekeepers might bemoan the changes, claiming the sky is falling, in reality, it is exactly the opposite.

    Online video is a whirlwind of new developments, with longtime cable incumbents like HBO and ESPN, and even broadcaster CBS, announcing their own over-the-top video services, even as YouTube reports paying out $1 billion to rights-holders. Indeed, young YouTube celebrities are crowding the Hollywood regulars off of magazine covers.

    The story is similar with respect to books. Publishers are attempting to cut out vendors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble by selling direct to consumers via their own websites, and many self-publishing authors are making as much or more than those going through the traditional publishing routes. And so it is in other content sectors as well — the quantity, availability, and consumption of music and video games, for example, are at or near all time highs.


    The means of developing content and the facilities for distributing it have become democratized. New technology and the Internet allow creators of all sorts to bypass traditional gatekeepers and reach audiences of unprecedented size. We are experiencing a creative revolution in content creation and distribution. A revolution that brings great improvements along with great change is not going to be without its opponents. The beneficiaries of the old order, whose incumbency is threatened by systemic change, cannot necessarily be expected to place the greater social good over the viability of their business.

    Consider that the transportation revolution at the turn of the last century may have been a wonderful development — unless you were the business that was making the buggy whips that nobody needed anymore. In that case, the revolution doesn’t look so good.

    While we should not overlook the plight of the buggy whip maker, we shouldn’t accede to efforts to slow down technological progress on his behalf either. Fierce competition produces winners and losers. In a free market, we need to worry about the consumers, and competition in general, not the competitors. Individual competitors have to get with it, or get out of the way. Indeed, a New York Times column observed some years ago that a few innovative tack and harness manufacturers like Studebaker in fact managed to retool to meet the demands of the 20th century.

    It will be the same with the digital content revolution. Some of the old gatekeepers, middlemen, and incumbents will be swept away by the tide of change; others will adapt and innovate, however, and prosper. In the meantime, creators have more powerful platforms at their disposal, and can reach ever broader audiences with little effort. At the same time, consumers’ options for lawful access to content multiply innumerably. Even if a few disintermediated incumbents complain loudly that the sky is falling, the data tells us a very different story.

  • Facebook Will Share Users' Political Leanings With ABC News, BuzzFeed
    Facebook has begun digging through its users’ public posts for insight into their political views and will give the findings to ABC News and BuzzFeed to help their coverage of the 2016 presidential election.

    The company confirmed the partnership with the two news organizations in an email to The Huffington Post on Friday. As part of the experiment, Facebook will categorize status updates about politicians and policy issues by adult Facebook users in the U.S. as positive, negative or neutral. The data will guide ABC and BuzzFeed’s reporting on the political leanings of certain demographics.

    Facebook’s data will first be used by ABC News during its midterm election coverage next week, specifically discussing 2016 presidential candidates and issues. BuzzFeed News will use the data regularly for political analysis.
    The partnership was first reported by Politico.

    A Facebook spokesperson told HuffPost that the company will look only at public status updates and not pull data from private messages or replies to other users’ posts. The company also stressed that it will anonymize the aggregated data reports before they hand them over to ABC and BuzzFeed.

    Those promises might ring hollow with Facebook users: A recent survey of 4,000 Americans found that 82.9 percent of the respondents did not trust Facebook with their personal information.

    That sentiment almost certainly has something to do with Facebook’s long history of keeping tabs on users. The company analyzes users’ browsing history and sells that data to third-party companies for targeted advertising. Facebook has also shared with an outside firm data on how its users discuss TV shows.

    Politics is a new, if perhaps inevitable, avenue for Facebook data-mining. A recent Pew study found that 48 percent of Americans read political news on Facebook.

  • Why Final Fantasy Is Trying So Hard To Make Characters' Hair Realistic
    Gamers got an inside look at the upcoming “Final Fantasy XV” at an event in Paris Thursday, and there was one clear takeaway: the game’s developer, Square Enix, is serious about hair.

    Though the “Final Fantasy” franchise is immensely popular — it’s sold over 80 million games worldwide in its 27 years of existence — there’s a lot riding on this latest sequel (and its hair).

    In recent years, franchises from the West like “Call of Duty” have dominated the sales charts. Japanese games haven’t fared, as well. “If ‘Final Fantasy XV’ doesn’t do well, perhaps there’s not much of a future for console games,” FFXV co-director Hajime Tabata told Kotaku.com this summer.

    So, “Final Fantasy XV” needs to look really good to lure in an audience. One way to tell that’s happening? The hair. Check out this clip from Thursday’s presentation, apparently showing the process artists and developers used to form an in-game character’s hair:

    It might seem simple, but hair has long been a challenge to render and animate. Aesthetics are subjective, sure, but if hair looks beautiful in a game or computer-generated movie, you know some serious work has gone into it.

    According to WIRED, Ariel was meant to have curly hair in “The Little Mermaid,” but “rendering that kind of bounce and frizz” was practically impossible at the time. (To get some sense of the challenge, check out this 9-page Pixar document about the physics of curly hair in “Brave.”)

    When Square Pictures made a CGI “Final Fantasy” movie, (2001’s flop “The Spirits Within”), it took four years and almost $150 million, in part because of the 60,000 hairs that needed to be rendered on the main character’s head in every frame.

    Of course, Square Enix has always cared about hair in its “Final Fantasy” series. In 1988’s “Final Fantasy II” for the original Nintendo Entertainment System, character portraits were rendered with detailed tresses, a remarkable feature for the time:

    When Square Enix first used computer-generated cutscenes nearly 10 years later, in 1997’s “Final Fantasy VII,” the hair was looking more fabulous (and anime-esque) than ever:

    Here, we see Aki Ross in the film “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.” Those 60,000 hairs don’t quite have a natural movement about them, but who knows what sort of conditioner mankind’s got in the dystopic future?

    Things are looking a bit better in 2005’s DVD-movie “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.” Compare this hair to the ‘97 GIF above. It’s the same character:

    More recently, Square Enix has gotten closer to capturing a realistic look for strands of hair moving in the wind, as we see in 2010’s “Final Fantasy XIII”:

    And then there’s the most recent “Final Fantasy XV” preview:

    “Final Fantasy XV,” first announced in 2006 and originally titled “Final Fantasy Versus XIII”, will be the first Final Fantasy on the powerful Playstation 4 and Xbox One systems. We don’t know when the game will be released — and Square Enix didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment — but keep your eyes peeled for more silken goodness to come.

  • Is Microsoft Band the Device AppleWatch Should Fear?

    Microsoft has had a huge couple of weeks.  The updates have been broad, impacting a whole lineup of products and solutions from the company.  One of those announcements was Microsoft Band, the lifestyle and fitness wearable that has a huge number of sensors and Cortana.  The device went on sale yesterday and it has pretty much sold out of your local Microsoft store and for sure online. The Microsoft Band, while innovative in design, fundamentally isn’t bringing anything terribly new to the wearable market, especially the fitness market.  Fitbit has somewhat been the standard when it comes to fitness wearables

    The post Is Microsoft Band the Device AppleWatch Should Fear? appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Take A Peek Behind The Scenes At The Sriracha Factory
    Sriracha has captured hearts and taste buds around the world, inspiring its own cult following. Today, you don’t have to settle for slathering Sriracha sauce on your sandwich — you can do it while wearing a Sriracha-logo hoodie and holding a Sriracha-flavored lollipop at a Sriracha-themed music festival.

    But what goes on behind the scenes where the beloved condiment is made? A new video released by Zagat gives us a glimpse inside the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, California, and delves into some of the controversies surrounding the company’s famous product.

    Embarking on one of the daily factory tours that Huy Fong Foods now offers to the public, Zagat Editor James Mulcahy learns how the tangy magic happens and what the real story was behind those “Sriracha shortage” rumors. Owner David Tran even makes an appearance to explain the dust-up over the facility’s “spicy smell,” which some Irwindale residents claimed caused headaches, heartburn and eye irritation.

    The factory has hosted about 2,000 tourists so far, which is more than the population of Irwindale.

    Sign us up! We’re curious — and hungry.

    Want to read more from HuffPost Taste? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.

  • Mistakes in Time article show poor understanding of home BP monitors

    Highlights key misconceptions about device testing & accuracy, even among clinicians

    The post Mistakes in Time article show poor understanding of home BP monitors appeared first on iMedicalApps.

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